Thomas Heywood and the classical tradition

Thomas Heywood was unusual in the diversity and sheer quantity of his output, and fascinatingly individual in his classicism. This volume offers a ground-breaking investigation of his engagement with the classics across a writing career that spanned more than 40 years. It is the first in-depth study of his classicism, and it features a variety of perspectives. The introduction and twelve essays trace how the classics shaped Heywood’s writing in a wide variety of genres – translation, drama, epyllic and epic verse, compendia, epigrams, panegyrics and pamphlets – and informed both his many pageants and the warship he helped design for Charles I. Close readings demonstrate the depth and breadth of his classicism, establishing the rich influence of continental editions and translations of Latin and Greek texts, early modern mythographies, chronicles and the medieval tradition of Troy as revived by the Tudors. The essays probe Heywood’s habit of juxtaposing different and often disjunctive layers of a capaciously conceived ‘classical tradition’ in thought-provoking ways, attend to his use of the multiplicitous logic of myth to interrogate gender and heroism, and consider the way he turns to antiquity not only to celebrate but also to defamiliarise the theatrical or political present. Different contributions focus on A Woman Killed with Kindness, Oenone and Paris, Loves School, The Rape of Lucrece, Troia Britanica, the Ages plays, Gynaikeion, Pleasant Dialogues and Dramma’s, Apology for Actors and Sovereign of the Seas. Classical reception thus provides an illuminating, productively cross-generic angle for approaching Heywood’s prolific output and idiosyncratic aesthetic.

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